Quickie: The origin of “to 86” and other diner numbers

October 15, 2007

This classic Straight Dope has the skinny on the origins of the phrase “to 86.” It was, apparently, “diner code,” and Cecil Adams gives other examples. Some seem faintly ridiculous–“19 = ‘I yearn for a banana split'”–but it’s the best etymology I’ve seen for this phrase.

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